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Sony files patent for tech that blocks pre-owned games

Sony has seemingly confirmed rumours that its next home console, the PlayStation 4, may come with a feature that prevents the use of second-hand games.

The Japanese firm has filed a patent for NFC technology that would enable the forthcoming console to detect whether a game has been played on a different machine via the PlayStation Network account system. If the user’s copy of a game meets this criteria, it will then be disabled.

The desire for such an innovation is based on the proliferation of pre-owned games, the proceeds of which go solely to retailers rather than game developers.

“The development of electronic content including game applications (APs) is costly and therefore in a content business it is vital to redistribute part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers,” the document reads.

“Since the users who have purchased the second-hand items are somehow no longer potential buyers of the content, the developers would lose their profits otherwise gained in the first place," it adds.

However, the implementation of the technology is far from certain, as the function is reliant on a constant Internet connection which, if made mandatory for general console operation, could prove inconvenient for users.

In addition, the document reasons that “...users may communicate to share the password between them and therefore the second-hand sales and purchase cannot be eliminated reliably."

Sony’s intentions are therefore hard to make sense of. Company executive Jack Tretton has also previously refuted rumours that the PS4 could effectively embargo used-media, claiming that such a policy would be “anti-consumer” in an interview on GameTrailer’s web show, Bonus Round.

Image credit: Flickr (Jorge glez)